The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

City College student marches proudly into public service

City College student Carmel Wright is the Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa. Christopher Williams | Staff Photographer |
City College student Carmel Wright is the Vice President of Phi Theta Kappa.
Christopher Williams | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

On any given weekday, the state capitol building in Sacramento is a bustle of activity. Inside, legislative staff run materials to Senate and Assembly members as laws are reviewed. Schoolchildren, sitting in the chamber balcony, see the legislative process unfold.

Outside, professionals dressed in power suits enter and exit the building. Joggers run the perimeter of Capitol Park, and state employees take brisk walks on their lunch breaks.

For some, a visit to the Capitol is just another day’s work and a chance to take a tour. But for others like Carmel Wright, a trip from Redding to the Capitol was what she needed to reaffirm her dreams of writing legislation.

Wright, 23, is a second-year student at City College, serving as the Phi Theta Kappa honor society’s executive vice president and studying political science in hopes of one day writing legislation to reform the K-12 education system.

“I fell in love with the city in a very big way,” reflects Wright. “I realized that Redding wasn’t big enough for me to dream. Obviously, visiting the Capitol and sitting on the steps and everything, I realized this is where I want to come.”

Wright, uses the term, “stateswoman,” instead of “politician,” to describe her ideal career. Her careful choice of words reflects her poised demeanor and clear speaking style.

“She distinguished herself immediately by the way she articulated herself,” says City College English professor Sally-Anne Jackson, who instructed Wright in her honors writing class. “I wish everyone would have her enthusiasm and vision.”

Wright’s journey to Sacramento has been defined by perseverance. Born in Bremerton, Washington, and raised near Salem, Oregon, she was the primary caregiver for her three younger siblings. She worked three jobs in high school.

After graduating, Wright decided to leave her hometown and move to Redding, California. There she did volunteer work caring for children and began focusing on the issue of education. While there, she began pursuing the legislative process.

“I began to dream about what it would look like to write legislation that would help the children’s education issue on a larger scale,” says Wright.

After living four years in Redding and continuing to explore her passion for helping children through the legislative process, Wright suddenly lost the use of her right leg. After undergoing an extensive diagnostic process, she found out she had a rare form of myositis ossificans, a growth in her leg muscle. She decided to undergo surgery at UC Davis Medical Center that could have potentially left her without the ability to walk.

The surgery went successfully and she then began the process of rehabilitation and recovery. After being bedridden for three months, Wright realized she needed a goal: her education.

“I needed something to look forward to and something to push myself to recover for,” she says.
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Having been missed the UC and CSU deadlines and denied a special case for applying late, Wright began considering community college. She was informed she had one day left to apply to the Los Rios Community College District.

“Within a week, I had enrolled, been accepted, found a place to live and had several leads on a job,” Wright says.

Wright has certainly capitalized on her opportunity. Carrying 20 units during the fall 2015 semester, holding a job, serving as the Phi Theta Kappa honors society’s executive vice president and playing on the women’s intercollegiate tennis team, Wright is a very dedicated student.

Wright works closely with the honor society president to improve new students’ access to resources on campus they may be unaware of, such as scholarships.

“I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be at Sacramento City College two years ago,” says Wright, “but there are things I’m doing here that I’d always imagined myself doing, such as advocating for others and helping students access things.”

Wright’s involvement with Phi Theta Kappa has also allowed her to access some of the resources she advocates for. She is one of this year’s recipients of the Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education award, a nationwide scholarship awarded to only 10 students.

With her work in Phi Theta Kappa, her scholarship and her schedule, Wright’s work ethic and investment in her campus community is admirable.

“She cares about things in our campus community,” says City College English professor Jodi Angel. “She cares about things beyond herself. Everybody should have a Carmel in their class if possible.”

Wright’s dedication to her education and community indicates she is an unstoppable force. She says she believes her weakness is planning out her life too extensively. On the contrary, it may be her greatest strength and a testament to her goal-oriented outlook.

“I’m a happy, optimistic person,” she explains. “I’m also incredibly determined. People usually describe me as intense.”

Her determination is leading her closer to her dreams. It is easy to imagine Carmel Wright sitting on the steps of the Capitol and feeling at home. It is even more probable that soon she will sit in the Assembly chambers voting on an education measure she authored.

For now, Californians will just have to wait until they see her name on the ballot.

Editor’s Note: This story was written by guest writer Taylor Buck ([email protected])

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